“Maybe they will see me and not my mistakes.” “Maybe someday someone will have confidence in me.” “Maybe one day I won’t be labelled a delinquent.” “Maybe I will be forgiven, because I was just a child.”
These are only some of the statements recorded during 10 workshops held by the Child Rights Centre with children and young people subjected to custodial diversion measures in three institutions for education of children and youth in Belgrade, Niš and Knjaževac. Young people from the Child Rights Centre’s DX Club were among the participants of these workshops.
The aim of the workshops was to acquaint children and young people with their rights if they came into contact with the law and to empower them to recognise and respond, in a timely manner, to situations where their rights were violated. They were introduced to the concept of a child included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the rights guaranteed to them by this document, as well as the role of judicial authorities, social welfare centres and the police. During the workshops, young people asked many questions, but also shared their concerns and fears.
In addition, an important segment of the workshops was focused on discussing plans and wishes for the future, which allowed us to determine the need for improving knowledge, skills and tools for working with children and youth in institutions for education of children and youth, developing services and increasing financial resources for planning the leaving of institution and support for independence programmes.
Furthermore, since the role of educators is among the key ones for the progress and development of children and young people in institutions, it is necessary to continuously improve knowledge and skills for direct work with children and young people, especially those aimed at preventing and overcoming expected and unexpected problems in emotions and behaviour.
Various observations and insights of children and young people, placed in institutions for education of children and youth, will be presented in a short film in the form of key messages for the general public, with the idea of stressing how important it is to change the attitude towards this extremely vulnerable group of children and young people and provide them with the necessary support to enable them to overcome developmental crises, develop prosocial behaviour and become constructive members of society.
The workshops were held as part of the project “Promoting Positive Juvenile Justice System in Serbia”, implemented by the Republic Institute for Social Protection in cooperation with the Child Rights Centre, and with the financial support of the European Commission through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme.
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